The Last Homestead: Sept. 12

Monday, September 12, 2016

Good morning, love. It’s Monday, about 10:15, and I’m sitting in the bunk house, out of the wind. The sun is nice and toasty, but the wind is wickedly chilled. Must be coming off a snowy range somewhere.

The wind here reminds me of the wind on our knoll at home – out of proportion to the coziness of the warm grass. It makes me want to hunker down into that grass and turn into a small insect, something whose head doesn’t protrude very far out. Of course, that would ruin my view of the landscape, so I guess I’ll stick with human size.

This morning’s excitement looked like a change of plans in the Howe household. Yesterday Rose told me that she was going to spend the winter hunting down parts for the ’37 Chevy. But this morning, they drove off with it on the back of the trailer.

Either they found a part for it that is irresistible– or perhaps someone who saw it on Saturday matched their asking price. Whichever, I’m glad I got photos of it before it is gone. I grew fond of its funny shapes, even on the trailer bed.


The 37 Chevy on its trailer with Monument Mountain in the background.

Today I woke up knowing what my big painting project will be. I spent the morning doing visual (and mental) research. It’s a fairly simple project but big, so requires planning and a lot of painting.

I’m going to paint one or more big boards using as a model the ponderosa  visible from the picnic table by the bunk house. Sticking near the bunk house has a couple of advantages –I won’t have to haul a honking big painting surface 3/4 mile up the lane (wet paint all over me and dust all over the birch board). And I can work hunkered down out of the wind. I can even use the picnic table as an easel. And I will be close to the bunk house and hot tea!


The ponderosa that became the primary subject of the Big Painting

One or two big boards – that’s my plan for pretty much the rest of my stay here (only about seven or eight days more!) I’ve already done a 4 x 4”  study of the tree. I’ve started line drawings, to scale, on paper to get the composition right and am now adding enough detail to decide if I want to use one 30 x 40” board, vertical, or two boards, both vertical, making the tree more dramatic. I can also turn the boards horizontal – so the possibilities expand –30 x 40, 40 x 30, 30 x 80, or 40 x 60.  40″ x 60″ makes most sense when I get thinking about it, but thinking and looking at it are often two different things. Luckily, I have a sketch pad to try different compositions on; the pad is even the right scale, so I’m not having to do too much math.

Ok, I’m going back to my weak tea (hot!) and my sketching inside (tepid). I think I’ll have to close the window, which goes against all the rules of june. Bella has decided I’m definitely a friend, although the cat is rather indifferent. And Brandy continues to be firm about who’s who in our relationship. I rank pretty low, I fear, although I’m acceptable because Rose said so. Bella seems oblivious to all ranks and classes, being basically a nose-licking dog (although nose licking is definitely against the Rules of Rose which means that Bella mostly tries to abstain).

Two days ago I was roasting; today, I have three layers on and unless I’m moving around outside, I need my painting coat as well. Moving or sitting in the sun is delicious, but the wind chased me inside some time ago. It was cold even in the shelter of the porch. I thought it might be still and windless this sunny morning, but here it is, relentless, gusty, and cold.

Later – about 1:40 PM

More excitement here: After the Howes left again this morning with the old car, I did some composing on the board surface, wrote my email to you, and organized my photos, seeing some things that I need more photos of.  So off I went to find some suitable subjects in the late morning light.


I was coming back down the lane, near the arena, when who should appear but the black calf.


By the arena. Outside the fence. Bellowing for Ma. Oh my. I grabbed my camera. When I approached her, hoping to convince her to find her way back behind the fence, up the lane she went. Oh no. Bad, bad, bad. That would get her to the highway and who knew where she’d end up. Cars, trucks, speed – no, no, Black Calf.

But I couldn’t stop her, so I retreated to the bunk house, hoping she’d come back. I couldn’t see her from there but I didn’t hear her running any more. Finally, when I snuck back into sight, I saw she had come back to the arena. I peeked inside and there was Red Cow as well as Black Calf! So both were safe, at least for the nonce.

I thought about opening the pasture gate closest to the arena for the two of them to go back inside the fence, but feared spooking them again. I’m not exactly a trained cow herder. And, of course, I risked letting the other cows out (there were 4 or 5 a ways down the pasture). So I decided there was nothing to be done but go up the lane and take some more photos to calm my nerves. When I got back, the two of them were in the back yard of the Howes house, cropping the grass. I rolled my eyes at them, made a disgusted face at them, and came on back to the bunk house, where I ate lunch.

6:02 PM

I’m sitting in the Howe’s yard — they came home, bringing the Chevy with them, and then left again in the van, waving as they went by.

The wind has not stopped, although its fierceness has become merely nasty. I’m having trouble writing because Bella is rolling around with her feet in the air, kicking at the folding table. She wants her belly rubbed.  I hear Brandy, inside, whining. I think she was shut in, while Bella was allowed to run free – a change of roles.

Red Cow appears to be back behind fences, although I’m not sure where Black Calf is. Probably she’s safe inside the fence also. I’m much relieved. Such a day. I will have to go back to my warm bunk house quarters and put up my feet and ruminate on the excitements of the outback.

blackcalffencedBlack Calf, safely fenced, although the photo was taken at some other time than during the runaway crisis!

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4 Responses to The Last Homestead: Sept. 12

  1. revab says:

    I’m enjoying this entire sequence, June.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kit Szanto says:

    Can’t wait for the portrait of the Ponderosa …loved the “study” but now the Big One.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jerry Underwood says:

    Oh, bad Black Calf. I love the photo at the end of Black Calf inside that complex set of fences and metal drums. A working ranch.


    Liked by 1 person

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